Disclaimer: I am a Sipat Lawin Ensemble Player and oversaw Press Relations of Battalia Royale. The views below are my own, and do not reflect that of Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Battalia Royale, and its affiliates. Feel free to discuss, debate, or even disagree with my commentary. Let the material live through discourse.
When I watch the crowds cheer on the performance at Battalia Royale, pump their fists to the air when they decide to play to endgame, or roar their approval in deciding to kill Timothy during quarter time; I wonder if this is what lies beneath Filipnos being so-called the “happiest people on earth.”
I have friends in psychology who confided in feeling that the phrase has become nothing more than PR. The underprivileged smile because it’s all they have. It’s free. But it’s a shallow grave for the real grief of the day-to-day. The cliches still ring true: rich get richer, poor get poorer. The system is quaking. People are angry at change that isn’t happening fast enough.
Or it could be because I’m in Battalia, that the every day violence is all the more emphasized.
But this was the local news as Battalia Royale unfolded:
It’s not unusual for teachers in public schools to throw chalk or even chalkboard erasers at sleepy or delinquent students. If you’re not so lucky, it might be the desk. Then you hear of students actually getting beat up by teachers, during class.
A Dad turns a gun on his son’s classmate, when the classmate accuses the son of bullying him.
Meanwhile, in Cebu, an 11 year old girl finally kills her Dad after years of seeing him beat up her Mom.
“Why stage this when we’re surrounded by violence every day?!” Exclaims a colleague, upon seeing the show.
One man even made a statement on walking out when the audience voted for the remaining 13 or so students to kill each other at halftime, “Theater is a rehearsal for life.” he declares.
The first comment, after being shared on the BR page, a fan of the show accuses him of being an overly-righteous git.
On the flipside, one fan of Battalia Royale said the show helped him process his rage after having survived a kidnapping in Mindanao. Another viewer, a preschool teacher (one of many) said it was “refreshing” after spending days of repressing the aggravation of dealing with kids every day.
A few more who have raised a ruckus during the show, who cheered at every death, would think about the show a day after and feel guilty about the choices they’ve made.
Many, many more have decided to give other theatrical shows a try. They liked the reminder of thinking and feeling, when they’ve taught themselves to carry on and just do their job.
These are the things that aren’t picked up in the media, and only briefly mentioned in one BR article. It’s a sign that at least, for now, the rage is tempered.
I know and hail Battalia Royale as a sacred space for rage. But I wonder, as the headlines ring even more alarms, if it’s indicative of a tipping point for Filipinos. We’ve smiled long enough. We’ve lived with the worst long enough.
Has our countdown to endgame begun? And how much time do we have?
Otaku Champloo: Battalia Royale Beyond Battle Royale
Writings belong of David Finnigan: Being in Manila, presenting Symposium Royale